Reopening Halton schools was a scramble, director says
HALTON - There was a scramble for parents, children, crossing guards, teachers, and school administrators this morning to get to class after just getting word schools would be opened Friday.
Halton District School Board director of education David Euale.
There was a scramble for parents, children, crossing guards, teachers, and school administrators this morning to get to class after just getting word schools would be opened Friday.
Halton District School Board director of education David Euale also had a late night Thursday and an early start Friday, hoping to reopen schools for classes after a planned elementary teacher protest for today.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) had planned a one-day political protest, until Premier Dalton McGuinty challenged the potential labour disruption in all of the province’s elementary schools at an Ontario Labour Relations Board hearing.
After nearly 13 hours of arguments between the Province and the teachers union, at approximately 4 a.m., the labour board ruled the one-day protest as illegal.
Shortly after the ruling, ETFO president Sam Hammond directed his 76,000 members to comply with the labour board decision and to report to class today.
Public school boards scrambled to reopen classes today, while the Halton board was the last to announce its classes would resume as well.
The delay locally came as a result of the school board previously trying to add space for some of its children.
“The one snag in all of this was that, based on our expectation that the protest would take place, we allowed our before- and after-school daycare providers, which are in a number of our schools, to provide full-day programming for our students,” Euale said
In order to be able to provide such full-day programming, the daycare providers consolidated their staff from all their locations and placed them into only a few school centres.
With schools reopened, Euale feared children would arrive for preschool programming at their usual schools with no staff there to meet them.
It was already too late to revert daycare to its regular programming, so full-day programs are continuing today as though they would have had schools been closed. The daycare providers notified parents of these changes.
Euale noted having these daycare services at some schools would create some accommodation issues, but such issues would be minor and adjustments could be made by school principals.
“The issue for me was not whether a gym is not being able to be used by the rest of the school because the daycare is there. We can handle that for a day. My biggest fear was parents dropping kids off at school at 7:30 a.m. and the principal’s not there and the daycare’s not there and the parent not knowing where to go with their kid,” he said.
Otherwise, classes are functioning as normally as possible today. It is unknown how many students are in school as some parents made alternate arrangements for their children and may have chosen to keep the arrangements.
“We will function with the students that we get to the best of our abilities and I think our teachers will do their very best to provide a quality experience for kids today,” Euale said.
In addition, not all crossing guards were out this morning.
The Town of Oakville, which employs crossing guards, got the word from the school board at 7:20 a.m. today (Friday) that schools would be open.
The Town’s manager of traffic operations, Simon Tam, said they tried to get as many crossing guards out as possible, given the short notice.
“It was difficult this morning to try to get everyone out. Some schools open at 8 a.m., so we only had a few minutes to get up,” he said. “We tried to give the town the best service we can.”
He said there were a number of empty crossing guard spots throughout Oakville. However, there were a number of crossing guards already out as the Halton Catholic District School Board was operating regularly and some road crossings are shared between the public and separate school boards.
Tam said there would be more crossing guards out this afternoon as well.
“We are now calling the remaining crossing guards and we’ll do our best to recall as many as possible,” he said.
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